"The Queen's Justice" is the third episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones. It is the sixty-third episode of the series overall. It premiered on July 30, 2017. It was written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Mark Mylod.
In King's Landing
Euron parades the captives Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene through the streets of King's Landing, reveling in his victory all the way to the Red Keep. The crowd pelt Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene with rotting fruit. Impressed with his "gift", Cersei agrees to an alliance with the Lord Reaper and praises him as a true friend to the Crown. Ellaria spits at Cersei's feet while Ser Gregor Clegane is present among the Queensguard. When Euron demands his "reward", Cersei responds that he will get it once the war is over. Cersei appoints Euron as the commander of her naval forces and her brother Jaime Lannister as commander of her armies. Despite the fanfare, Jaime is privately hostile towards Euron and tells the Lord Reaper of Pyke that his head belongs on a spike. Euron tells Jaime that he desires Cersei and asks for tips about her sexual tastes, much to Jaime's silent fury.
Later, Cersei confronts Ellaria and Tyene in their cell, where both are gagged and chained to opposite walls. Accompanied by Ser Gregor Clegane and Qyburn, Cersei remembers Oberyn Martell's showdown with Ser Gregor during Tyrion's second trial by combat, sadistically recalling the Red Viper's savage death to Ellaria and how Ellaria screamed at the sight of it. She later provokes Ellaria's sorrow by recalling Oberyn's fearsome skill with a spear, and how that eventually didn't stop Gregor from killing him, as well as inferring that Oberyn brought his death on himself by taunting Gregor instead of just leaving him to die. She then remembers raising Myrcella, and the fact that Ellaria murdered her.
Cersei goes on to praise Tyene's beauty to Ellaria and suggesting that she is Ellaria's favorite. She contemplates how she will execute Ellaria or Tyene, cruelly suggesting Ser Gregor kill them the way he killed Oberyn. However, opining that it would be too fast a death, she kisses Tyene with the Long Farewell, citing poetic justice for Myrcella's murder, and torments Ellaria by having Qyburn confirm the uncertainty of when the girl will die, but also the inevitability of it, as the Long Farewell varies on how long it takes to kill, depending on the strength of its victim's constitution. Cersei tells Ellaria that she will be left alive to witness the event as well as to watch her daughter's "beautiful face crumble into bone and dust", and that she will be made to contemplate the things she has done, even to the point of being force-fed if she tries to starve herself to death. Before leaving, Cersei orders that torches be routinely replaced so that Ellaria doesn't miss a moment of Tyene's demise as Ellaria frantically struggles against her chains in a futile effort to reach her daughter.
Later that evening, Jaime is drinking wine for supper when Cersei arrives and kisses him. He initially rebuffs her advances but ultimately consents to sex. The next morning, following an incestuous night with Jaime, Cersei answers the door for a servant who announces that a visitor from Braavos has arrived. Cersei acknowledges the message and requests fresh sheets.
Cersei meets with Tycho Nestoris, a representative from the Iron Bank of Braavos, who offers his condolences for the loss of her son Tommen Baratheon. Tycho thanks Cersei for eradicating the Faith Militant, which he describes as superstition. Cersei realizes that the Iron Bank wants to bet on the strongest faction. Cersei tells Tycho that Lord Euron controls the sea and is an ally for the time being. Cersei convinces Nestoris to side with the Lannisters by denouncing Daenerys as a revolutionary rather than a monarch. She promises that the Lannisters will pay their debts unlike the Dothraki and former slaves. Cersei vows to pay the Crown's debts in full within a fortnight and invites Nestoris to stay in King's Landing. Nestoris is pleased and describes Cersei as her "father's daughter".
At Winterfell, Sansa and Petyr Baelish learn from Maester Wolkan that they have about 4,000 bushels of wheat. Sansa realizes that they don't have enough food for the coming winter. She advocates building granaries to stockpile for a famine. Sansa also orders Yohn Royce to see that the armor made for their armies is outfitted with leather to keep warm. While walking, Baelish and Sansa talk about the threat of Cersei. Petyr urges her to fight every battle and to look for threats in every corner. They are then interrupted by a guard who tells Lady Stark that she has received a visitor, who turns out to be her younger brother Bran Stark, accompanied by Meera Reed.
Following a tearful reunion, the two siblings retreat to the Godswood, where Sansa tells Bran how she wishes Jon were there with them at Winterfell. Bran agrees, noting that he needs to speak to Jon. When Sansa points out that Bran is the rightful Lord of Winterfell since he is the last remaining true-born son of Ned Stark, he refuses the position, stating that he is the Three-Eyed Raven and thus can't be any sort of Lord. Sansa begs for Bran to explain what that means, and Bran then demonstrates his newly-acquired power to a skeptical Sansa by recalling details from the night of her marriage to Ramsay Bolton. Startled, Sansa walks away in shock and tears.
At the Citadel, Archmaester Ebrose examines Jorah Mormont's wounds and surmises that the infection is no longer active. Ebrose realizes that somebody treated Jorah, but Mormont claims the belief that rest and the climate healed him. Ebrose lets Jorah go but orders a private audience with Samwell Tarly later that evening; it's obvious to Jorah and Sam that he's in trouble, but Sam says he'll find out by just how much in the evening. Jorah tells Sam that he is returning to Daenerys because she gave him hope and a sense of purpose. Jorah thanks Sam for saving him, and Sam says it's the least he could do given everything that Jeor Mormont did for him. Jorah is clearly moved when he takes Sam's offered farewell handshake, having expected to never touch another person ever again.
In private, Ebrose chastises Sam for embarking on an illegal healing procedure due to the high risk of infection. Nevertheless, he praises Sam for his success, noting that it was an extraordinarily difficult operation, and asks for the secret of his success. Sam replies that he simply read the books and followed the instructions. Ebrose "congratulates" Sam by telling him to make fresh copies of several old manuscripts and scrolls so their knowledge can be preserved, explaining that Sam's reward is not being expelled from the Citadel.
Jon and Davos arrive at Dragonstone, and are immediately greeted by Tyrion and Missandei. Upon meeting, Tyrion addresses Jon as the bastard of Winterfell, while Jon addresses him as the dwarf of Casterly Rock – the two share a friendly grin. Jon observes that Tyrion has picked up some scars. Jon also introduces Davos while Tyrion introduces Missandei, who requests that they surrender their weapons. Jon and his entourage hand over their weapons to Daenerys's Dothraki guards.
On the walk to the castle, Missandei walks with Davos and tells him that she comes from the island of Naath. Davos remarks that it was a paradise full of palm trees. Jon and Tyrion talk about Sansa Stark's marriage to Tyrion. Tyrion assures Jon that it was a sham and was never consummated, and remarks that she is a lot smarter than she lets on, to which Jon agrees. While Jon is aware about the fate of the previous Starks who had met with the Mad King, Jon insists that he is not a Stark. Jon and Davos are startled at the sight of Drogon and Viserion flying low over the causeway and dive to the ground, while an amused Missandei and Tyrion retain their composure. Offering Jon a hand up, Tyrion says he wishes he could tell Jon he'll get used to the dragons – but no one is quite used to them except their mother, who is waiting for Jon within.
On the cliffs overlooking the beach, Varys confronts Melisandre about her reluctance to see the King in the North. Melisandre responds to his prodding that she parted on bad terms with Jon and Davos Seaworth because of terrible mistakes she made. She says that now that she has "brought ice and fire together", she will end her previous habit of "whispering in the ears of kings" and indicates her intention to travel to Volantis. When Varys suggests that she should not return to Westeros, Melisandre replies that she will return one last time, "as [she] is destined to die in Westeros... just like [Varys]."
In the throne room, Missandei introduces Daenerys by her many titles. At Jon's awkward prompting, a slightly amused Davos introduces Jon simply as King in the North. Daenerys thanks Jon for traveling so far but refers to him as a Lord. Davos begs to differ, but Daenerys responds that there has been no King in the North ever since Torrhen Stark bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror and adds that an oath lasts for perpetuity. Dany then reiterates her demand for Jon to bend the knee, but he refuses. When Dany accuses him of breaking faith with House Targaryen, Jon reminds her that the Mad King burnt his grandfather Rickard Stark and uncle Brandon. Daenerys apologizes for her father's actions and stresses that children should not be punished for the crimes of their parents. She then urges Jon to renew the historic allegiance between their two great houses. Jon expresses agreement with Daenerys's view that children should not be punished for the crimes of their parents, but argues that he is not beholden to his ancestors' oaths. Jon tells her that he has come because he needs her help--and she needs his. Dany reminds him that she has three dragons and Dothraki who have pledged themselves to her.
Getting to the point of his trip, Jon likens the fighting between the Great Houses to children squabbling over a game. Jon points out that the army of the dead is their true enemy. Daenerys is skeptical, but Tyrion vouches for Jon. Jon says that they need to make cause to fight against the army of the dead. Daenerys asks if Jon knew if his father knew that his best friend had sent assassins to kill her as a baby (not knowing that Lord Eddard Stark had opposed King Robert Baratheon's assassination plot). Dany recounts that she was targeted by assassins, enslaved, raped, and defiled but that her faith in herself rather the gods kept her going. Daenerys talks about the miracle of her dragons' hatching and the Dothraki crossing the Narrow Sea. When Daenerys reiterates that she is destined to rule the Seven Kingdoms, Jon retorts that she will be ruling over a graveyard if the Night King is not defeated.
Tyrion says they cannot split their forces. Davos then speaks up for his liege lord and tells Dany that Jon won the support of the Wildlings and fought the White Walkers, but Jon cuts him off when he tries to mention the true outcome of the Mutiny at Castle Black. Davos says that it doesn't matter who bends the knee, as if they don't put aside their enmities to focus on the undead they will all die, but Tyrion doesn't see the point of Jon's refusal to submit. When Jon disputes Daenerys's claims to queenship, Dany responds that he is in open rebellion since he has declared himself King in the North. Daenerys then receives a message from Varys. Dany orders Missandei to give Jon and his followers food and lodging, then ominously gives a series of clipped orders, in Dothraki, to Qhono. When Jon asks if he is a prisoner, she says "not yet".
Varys tells her that the Targaryen fleet was ambushed by Euron Greyjoy's Iron Fleet in the Narrow Seas. He informs her that Yara Greyjoy, Ellaria Sand, and her daughter Tyene Sand were captured. In response to this grim news, Daenerys allows Jon and Davos to stay until they can reach a proper agreement.
Later, Jon and Tyrion discuss his predicament. Jon is unhappy that he is a prisoner while the White Walkers and the Night King still pose a threat. Tyrion says he trusts the word of Jeor Mormont and Jon. Jon asks Tyrion how he can convince people about the existence of things which they don't believe exist. Jon wants to help his people and is frustrated with the deadlock. Tyrion encourages Jon not to give up. When Jon remarks that he is a fool for going south, Tyrion reassures him that the Mad King's daughter is not her father and has protected people from "monsters," telling him to speak with her servants. Tyrion asks if there is something he can do to help Jon.
After learning about the dragon glass beneath Dragonstone, Tyrion speaks with Dany about Jon's request to access the material. Dany is preoccupied with the loss of two allies. Tyrion convinces Dany to let Jon have the dragon glass in order to court his allegiance, and tells her to give him something so that they can focus on Casterly Rock. Dany listens to her Hand's advice, but seems more preoccupied with what Davos was about to say about Jon in the throne room. Tyrion dismisses it as Northern hyperbole.
While Dany is watching over her dragons, she is joined by Jon. Dany tells Jon that she named her dragons Rhaegal and Viserion after her brothers Rhaegar and Viserys Targaryen. Jon realizes that Tyrion has been petitioning her. Dany tells Jon she is determined to remove Cersei. She allows Jon to mine the dragon glass and agrees to provide men and equipment. Desperate for some validation, he asks if she believes in the Night King and White Walkers; she tells him to get to work.
In the waters of the Narrow Sea near Dragonstone, Theon Greyjoy is fished aboard by one of the few surviving ships of Yara Greyjoy's fleet. When the Ironborn question him on what happened to Yara, Theon lies and mentions that he tried in vain to save her, leaving them unimpressed. One of the men replies that he wouldn't be here if he tried to save her.
In the Chamber of Painted Table, Dany confers with her advisers Tyrion, Varys, and Missandei. Dany proposes going out with her dragons to hunt Euron Greyjoy's Iron Fleet, but Missandei and Tyrion argue against it: they have no idea where Euron is, and all it would take is for one stray arrow to kill Daenerys and the dragons would be uncontrollable. Tyrion thinks that the Lannisters will put up a fierce fight for Casterly Rock. Tyrion tells her that the gates and walls of Casterly Rock are impregnable to siege. However, his father Tywin assigned Tyrion to build the sewers in his youth. Tyrion tells them that he built a secret tunnel through a cove to bring in prostitutes. Tyrion's remarks are interspersed with scenes of the Unsullied trying to storm the fortress.
At Casterly Rock
In the Westerlands, Grey Worm and the Unsullied lay siege to the Lannister seat of Casterly Rock but face fierce resistance at the gates and walls. The Unsullied managed to sneak in through Tyrion's secret cove tunnel. Following fierce fighting, Grey Worm managed to overwhelm the garrison and capture the castle. Grey Worm quickly realizes that the Lannisters have only installed a skeletal garrison. Overlooking the battlements, Grey Worm questions a wounded Lannister soldier about where the main Lannister forces are and realizes that they have stumbled into a trap. Euron's Iron Fleet sneaks up on the Unsullied fleet from behind and unleashes projectiles, setting many Targaryen ships ablaze.
Meanwhile in the Reach farther south, Jaime Lannister, Randyll Tarly, and Bronn lead the Lannister and rebel forces towards Highgarden. Olenna Tyrell looks out from a balcony and sees the impending army approaching the castle.The battle is swift, slaughtering the Tyrell soldiers in Highgarden. Jaime finds Olenna sitting alone in her study. He confirms that the battle is over, as Olenna admits that the Tyrell army wasn't known for their prowess. She informs Jaime that Tyrion and Daenerys planned to invade Casterly Rock and thought the main Lannister force would be defending it. Jaime, while pouring two glasses of wine, reveals it was a set-up, explaining that his ancestral home is now practically worthless, aside from childhood sentiment; a token garrison was left behind, and the Rock's stores were emptied before they fled. He also states Euron's Iron Fleet will destroy the attacking fleet, leaving the Unsullied trapped deep in Westeros at the mercy of Lannister forces. Meanwhile, the main Lannister army would be far away from the main attack, a strategic move Jaime learnt from Robb Stark's attack at the Whispering Wood. Olenna wonders why Tywin Lannister didn't just take Highgarden when Casterly Rock's mines first ran out of gold. Knowing her end is near, she remarks that she may ask Tywin himself soon enough. Olenna asks Jaime how he intends to kill her, speculating he will kill her with Widow's Wail, Joffrey Baratheon's old sword. Remarking on Joffrey's horrible nature, Olenna proudly admits that she enacted measures to protect her family at all costs, with no regrets, but reflects that her actions pale in comparison to the atrocities performed by Cersei. She tells Jaime that Cersei is a monster; a matter of opinion according to Jaime. While some may dread her, Jaime insists that none will care what she has done, so long as order is restored. Olenna observes that Jaime really does love his sister, and calls him a fool, claiming that she will be the end of him, and that by the time he realizes what a disease Cersei is, it will be far too late for him. Jaime considers this a moot point, of little value discussing with Olenna, although she points out that as an experienced person about to die, she is the perfect person to discuss his life with.
Olenna again asks Jaime how he plans to kill her. Jaime tells her of Cersei’s idea of having her whipped and beheaded, or flayed alive and hanged, but he talked her out of those ideas. He then produces a small vial and empties its contents into one of the glasses of wine, giving it to Olenna who then drinks it after Jaime confirms that it will be a painless death. Olenna reflects on the horrible way that Joffrey died, and the gruesome details that the poison caused; she admits that part was unintentional on her part, as she had never seen the strangler work in person before. Shocked into silence, Jaime stares at her, realizing at last who really killed his eldest son and let his brother take the blame, setting in motion the deaths of Oberyn Martell and Tywin Lannister. Satisfied at his horror, Olenna insists that he tell Cersei that she was the one who murdered her son – a final cutting barb from the Queen of Thorns.
- Tyene Sand
- Olenna Tyrell
- Many unnamed Unsullied soldiers
- Many unnamed Lannister soldiers
- Many unnamed Tyrell soldiers
- 17 of 23 starring cast members appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane), Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane), and Joe Dempsie (Gendry) are not credited in this episode.
- This is Sophie Turner's 50th appearance as Sansa Stark on the show.
- This episode is the final appearance of starring cast member Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand) due to the fate of her character. Varma confirmed in an interview that even though we don't see Ellaria die and Cersei intends to keep her alive in torment, there are currently no plans for her to return to the TV show.
- Mark Archer, Luis Miguel Arranz, Richard Bradshaw, Nick Chopping, Jake Cox, James Cox, David Cronnelly, Matt Crook, Jason Curle, Levan Doran, Ben Essex, Daniel Euston, Bradley Farmer, Vladimir Furdik, Eduardo Gago, David Grant, Richard Hansen, Rob Hayns, Paul Howell, Rowley Irlam, Erol Ismail, Dylan Jones, Danko Yordanov, Milen Kaleychev, Matus Lajcak, Sonny Louis, Leigh Maddern, Jonny McBride, Leona McCarron, Kim McGarrity, Adrian McGaw, Carly Michaels, Trayan Milenov-Troy, Kevin Morgan, Camilla Naprous, David Newton, Radoslav Parvanov, Andy Pilgrim, Oleg Podobin, Marc Redmond, Andrej Riabokon, Florian Robin, Doug Robson, Fabio Santos, Paul Shapcott, Mark Slaughter, CC Smiff, James Stewart, Jonny Stockwell, Ryan Stuart, Gáspár Szabó, Marek Toth, Raycho Vasilev, Calvin Warrington-Heasman, Will Willoughby, Leo Woodruff and Lewis Young were stunt performers in this episode.
- The King's Justice (and/or Queen's Justice) is the title held by the royal executioner. Their duty is to kill anyone condemned by the King, the Hand of the King, or the Small Council, usually by public beheading. The term can also be used broadly to refer to the judicial authority of the King and the "law of the land".
- Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark's storylines do not appear in this episode.
- With the appearance of Casterly Rock and Highgarden in this episode, every regional capital of the Seven Kingdoms has appeared on-screen at least once - except for Storm's End and Sunspear. Each of the nine regions in the Seven Kingdoms has also appeared at least once (the seven original kingdoms, plus the capital region of the Crownlands, plus the border region of the Riverlands).
- It was intended for Storm's End to appear in Season 2, but due to budget limits it did not - though characters do state in dialogue that they are "in the Stormlands" when at Renly's army camp by the coast. Meanwhile, the TV series didn't actually depict Dorne's capital Sunspear on-screen, simply a truncated version of the Water Gardens, a nearby private retreat of House Martell.
- This is also the first time that a named location from The Westerlands has been depicted on-screen. Robb Stark did invade the north of the Westerlands in Season 2, in a failed attempt to lure Tywin west - but only his army camp or battlefields actually appeared on-screen, not specific castles (i.e. The Crag and Golden Tooth were mentioned but not shown on-screen).
- The appearance of both Oldtown and Highgarden here actually make this the first time that two separate locations in the Reach have appeared within the same episode.
- In the Inside the Episode video for the preceding episode, showrunners Benioff and Weiss praised that the four major political figures at Daenerys's council scene on Dragonstone were all women: Daenerys herself, and her allies Yara Greyjoy, Ellaria Sand, and Olenna Tyrell, who all joined her faction in the Season 6 finale. Within a single episode, all of these female political allies have been swept away: Yara and Ellaria captured, and now Olenna defeated and forced to commit suicide.
- In this episode, Cersei avenges the deaths of Joffrey and Myrcella. In both cases, the revenge is performed in the same manner of the respective murder: Olenna drinks a poisoned wine, and Tyene is poisoned by kissing. By extension, she partly avenges the death of Doran Martell, who was killed by Ellaria with help from Tyene, who killed Areo Hotah in order to leave Doran vulnerable.
In King's Landing
- Tycho's conversation with Cersei is similar to the conversation he had with Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth. He first used diplomatic words and then changed to direct facts when debts and loans were discussed ("The Laws of Gods and Men"). He also states that the Iron Bank does not engage in betting and/or gambling ("The Dance of Dragons").
- In the novels, the Iron Bank first sends a representative (Noho Dimittis) to Cersei, and after he is repeatedly rejected, Tycho Nestoris is sent to make an arrangement with Stannis for settling the debt; that order makes more sense for collecting a debt - first you address the debtor, and if he refuses to pay, use other means to collect the debt. In the show, it is the other way around.
- Tycho Nestoris's admission that Daenerys's efforts to end the slave trade have harmed the investments of the Iron Bank of Braavos is problematic, since Braavos was founded by ex-slaves. The city has vehemently opposed slavery for centuries, and unlike even Westeros, has launched anti-slaving campaigns against other powers in the Known World. Braavos even forced the nearby Free Cities such as Pentos to outlaw slavery. Although Pentos and the others found loopholes to allow the practice to continue, all the Free Cities in Braavos's sphere of influence nominally outlaw the practice to this day.
- A question unaddressed even in the novels is that seven out of the nine Free Cities still practice slavery, while the Iron Bank is said to be the biggest bank in the entire region (bigger than the banks of the other eight combined) - thus, it is so enmeshed in the economies of the other seven that it unclear how Braavos could lend money to these other Free Cities without it being at least indirectly influenced by the slave trade. For example, if the Iron Bank gives loans to Myrish lace manufacturers, Myr uses a large slave population as laborers. Slavery is illegal in Westeros, too, but characters in King's Landing are described as wearing fine lace imported from Myr (probably made with slave labor or indirectly benefiting from it).
- The novels do mention that Daenerys's initial actions in the Liberation of Slaver's Bay had far-reaching economic ripple-effects: slaves were the one major export of that region, and without it their local economy is suffering, as are the economies of their importers.
- It is unclear exactly what the TV writers meant by this exchange: if they were implying the Iron Bank of Braavos is directly involved in the slave trade (which severely contradicts the books, and even their own materials which say slavery is outlawed in Braavos), or, if they just mean that disrupting the slave trade had ripple effects throughout the local economies across all of Essos.
- The conversation between Tycho and Cersei is perhaps based on two scenes of the fifth novel, in both people complain that the disruption of slave trade by Daenerys has negative applications on worldwide economy: Xaro (who is alive in the books) tells that to Daenerys, while Tyrion and Haldon hear the same from a custom officer named Qavo.
- Cersei tries to persuade Tycho that the Iron Bank shouldn't trust Daenerys because she has dragons. Braavos was founded by escaped slaves fleeing the dragonlords of Old Valyria. Actually, in the books there is a chapter from the fifth novel (ADWD, Jon IX) in which Tycho talks with Jon Snow at the Wall and mentions "queer talk of dragons" in the east. Jon tries to make light of it, but Tycho gravely tells him he wouldn't joke about this, because his people fled the dragon-lords. Ultimately though, Daenerys is very much the opposite of her Valyrian ancestors: a dragonlord who frees slaves instead of taking them. It is unclear how the Iron Bank will react to her in the books as a result; they would approve of her anti-slavery activities, but have a great distaste for dragon-lords. Tycho seems more wary and frightened of Daenerys than welcoming when he describes her to Jon.
- Tycho's comments about the Faith Militant are surprising since Braavos has numerous temples. He may have just been attempting to flatter Cersei, as right after that she cuts him off and says he's really just here to get his gold back. Then again, the Iron Bank doesn't mind lending money to foreign religions or cults provided that they pay them back, while the Faith Militant was very austere and didn't believe in luxury items, etc. It is unclear if the Iron Bank will frown upon their takeover in the books.
- The general points Cersei argues to Tycho have some vague basis in truth: dragonlords and Dothraki have historically tended to just take what they want through conquest, not concerned with paying back banks for old debts. Former slaves also don't feel inclined to pay off the debts of their former masters, even if Braavos is anti-slavery.
- It is always possible that Tycho was simply playing along with Cersei's argument about Daenerys's anti-slavery efforts, given that he also feigned interest in stopping the Faith Militant even though Cersei said he didn't really care about that. But that verges on fan speculation: future episodes will need to show how this plays out.
- Tycho's comment that Cersei is her "father's daughter" is ridiculous, to say the least: Tywin, despite his cruelty, was a very efficient ruler and politician, while Cersei is totally incompetent as a ruler and in other aspects (as a mother); Kevan, Jaime and Tyrion make a point of that. The novels underscore her foolishness, absurd schemes and decisions, which all backfire at her. One of Cersei's most foolish mistakes is her stubborn refusal to pay the crown's debts to the Iron Bank; as a result, the Iron Bank decides to support Stannis.
- At the end of the fifth and most recent novel, the Iron Bank has actually switched its support from Cersei to Stannis Baratheon, offering to extend loans for him. Stannis intends to use those funds to hire a huge new army of 20,000 mercenaries from the Free Cities (though it is uncertain those reinforcements can be hired and brought to the battlefield in time). The bank does this because it has totally lost faith in Cersei's ability to lead after a string of debacles, and on top of this was insulted when she simply brushed its envoy Noho Dimittis aside and announced she wouldn't attempt to pay the bank back for the indefinite duration of the ongoing rebellions against her. How the bank will respond in future books is unclear, however, as Stannis is still alive in the novels but not in the TV series - i.e. if given a pure choice between Cersei or Daenerys it is uncertain how it would respond.
- Cersei makes some token lip-service at a cover-story for the Destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor in a massive wildfire explosion, claiming to Tycho that it was just a tragic accident - which happened to involve a gathering of many of her political enemies at a trial she was supposed to attend. It doesn't appear Tycho believes it, or for that matter, that Cersei expects anyone to believe that. Even Hot Pie, a common baker in the Riverlands at an inn, has heard that it was Cersei who blew up the Great Sept.
- Something similar happened in the novels: there was really no possible way that the Freys could spin the Red Wedding as anything other than a sacrilegious violation of guest right, so they actually started claiming that Robb Stark and his soldiers started turning into werewolves, and the Freys killed them in self-defense (things like werewolves don't exist in the relatively realistic medieval setting of Westeros); they even claim that Wendel Manderly was killed by Robb, while shielding Lord Frey with his body - and insolently tell that lie in the presence of Wendel's father. People who hear this "cover story" conclude that there's really nothing the Freys could say that would be believable, so it seems old Lord Walder decided he might as well come up with a flippantly implausible explanation which he knows full well no one will actually believe, just to be more insulting.
- Cersei's handmaiden, played by Sara Dylan, returns in this episode - she has actually been a background recurring character since Season 2 (and every subsequent season except for Season 5). She's the one who stumbled upon Sansa flowering in Season 2, and spied on Tyrion and Shae in Season 4. She doesn't actually have an in-universe name, but is credited as "Bernadette" (which isn't an in-universe Westeros-style name), apparently after one of the TV show's producers, Bernadette Caulfield.
- Cersei's handmaiden "Bernadette" has switched her clothing to emulate Cersei's new style: short cut hair and black, masculine robes. No one would want to show up Cersei by wearing longer hair than her after it was forcibly shorn off by the Faith Militant. Cersei shifted to black as a mourning color for her father and children, and she wears a lot of metal, armor-like pieces, imitating her father's appearance in some ways. Cersei's handmaidens copying her new clothing style is consistent with the "trickle down" principle of fashion that Michele Clapton established for Westerosi high society, and which has been visible on-screen throughout the TV series (see Costumes: The Seven Kingdoms). In this case, of course, there is a greater element of self-preservation in dressing like Cersei than ever before.
- The question arises that at least a year may have passed since Cersei's hair was shorn by the Faith Militant in the Season 5 finale, but Cersei's hair is still short: it's slightly longer than when they cropped it close to her head, but otherwise has stayed in a close pixie-cut. The answer might simply be that Cersei is intentionally keeping her hair short now. This actually would fit her backstory: as she explained in both the books and Season 2's "Blackwater", she resents being a woman and wishes she was seen the same as a powerful man like her father. Even her other clothing is imitating Tywin's costume style. Thus this may be Cersei intentionally trying to shed the trappings of femininity which she perceives as a weakness.
- In the books, it's said that she and Jaime would look like mirror images of each other if she cut her hair - to the point that when they were small children, they would play a game on their castle servants by swapping clothes and pretending to be each other, who truly couldn't tell the difference (and she was fascinated by how differently the servants treated her when they thought she was Jaime). Cersei is an extreme narcissist, and in some ways its implied that she has sex with Jaime because it's almost like having sex with a mirror image of herself.
- The episode's description "Cersei returns a gift", refers to her poisoning Tyene Sand with the Long Farewell via a kiss, the same method Ellaria had used to poison Myrcella Baratheon (in the Season 5 finale, "Mother's Mercy").
- Before poisoning Tyene the same way that Ellaria did Myrcella, Cersei regales Ellaria as to how she fed Myrcella at her own breast when she was a babe and wouldn't let the wet nurse touch her, a sentiment shared by Oberyn Martell about his sister Elia Martell and her children ("Two Swords").
- There is no mention in the novels that Cersei insisted on breastfeeding Myrcella herself. In general, Cersei hardly paid any attention to Myrcella and Tommen; Joffrey has always been her favorite child. It does not mean Cersei never cared for her other children: her reactions to Myrcella's departure and to the news about the near-fatal attempt on her life show that Cersei at least thinks she loves her daughter - though in the books it's more of a narcissistic view of Myrcella as one of her possessions.
- Cersei says that "I never got to have a mother", perhaps meaning that since she was four years old when her mother died - she does not have any memories of her, and never got to know her. In the books, however, Cersei was at least seven years old when her mother died, therefore she probably remembers her mother better than in the show.
- Cersei repeats the boast the Euron made in the Season 7 premiere that he is the best ship captain on the "Fourteen Seas". Again, this isn't a term from the novels, though being a fictional fantasy world, there's no reason for them to have an exact equivalent for the phrase "seven seas" from real life. In fact, it might not actually refer to fourteen distinct bodies of water - the real life term "seven seas" doesn't necessarily refer to seven actual bodies of water either - "seven" is just a lucky/prime number that is alliterative with "seas", so the TV writers may have picked "fourteen" because it is assonant with "sea".
- Euron triumphantly rides his horse into the throne room after winning a great victory, just as Tywin Lannister did in the Season 2 finale after winning the Battle of the Blackwater.
- After tormenting Ellaria and poisoning her daughter in the dungeons, Cersei becomes sexually aroused and launches into having sex with Jaime. Aerys II Targaryen himself would often become sexually aroused after burning his perceived enemies to death, after which he would force himself on his own wife (Queen Rhaella). Cersei already destroyed a large number of her enemies using wildfire, as the Mad King did when he burned Rickard Stark alive with it. Thus her sexual arousal at tormenting her enemies is another of the increasing parallels between Cersei and the Mad King.
- In the fourth book, Cersei becomes aroused when she watches the Tower of the Hand being destroyed by wildfire at her command (no one is harmed, though). Jaime notices that expression, and is filled with disgust and disquiet, vividly recalling who used to react the same way - Aerys.
- Cersei has become so openly tyrannical that she doesn't care if the servants in the Red Keep know that she's having incestuous sex with her own brother Jaime - in fact, flaunting it by making it a point to open the door for one when she didn't need to, then outright saying "we" need new sheets (after having sex). There are points in the novels where Jaime and Cersei engage in the idle fantasy that they could just proclaim that they're like the old Targaryen kings that wed brother to sister (there is some precedent for that in their world) but don't seriously try because they're not Targaryens, and even the Targaryens only managed to grudgingly get the Faith to accept their incestuous marriages after a string of major rebellions - while they're barely holding on to power as it is and the people absolutely loathe Cersei.
- When Cersei arises naked out of their bed, it appears that a body double is used - note that the camera angle shifts just as she rises up, so Lena Headey's face is never actually on camera during the full nude shot. Headey previously said she used a body double for the walk of shame scene in the Season 5 finale because the character is supposed to remain stoic but she feared she'd break character and react angrily at the crowd hurling insults and filth at her - she's in private in this scene so it's unknown why she chose one again this time (though ultimately that's up to her discretion). Headey was still recovering from her second pregnancy when Season 7 was filmed.
- Cersei admits to Ellaria and Tyene that she does not sleep at night, but instead lies awake, staring at the canopy and imagining ways of killing her enemies. This mirrors a similar line from Sansa at Season 4 episode "Two Swords": she tells Tyrion how she lies awake all night, staring at the canopy, thinking of how her beloved family died at the Red Wedding. There is a great difference between the lines, though: Sansa genuinely loved her family and only thought of how they died, not about getting revenge, whilst Cersei by Sansa's own admission will not stop trying to kill or hurt people in the worst possible manner if she deems them to have wronged her.
- Ellaria Sand and her daughter Tyene do not have any speaking lines throughout this episode (other than Tyene briefly shouting out "Mama!"). When Cersei confronts them in the dungeons she has them gagged, and the entire scene plays off of their non-verbal emotive reactions. After Tyene's infamously derided line, "You want a good girl, but you need the bad pussy!" from the Season 5 finale, the TV series apparently made it a point to avoid giving her dialogue - she has no speaking lines in all of Season 6, and was even going to talk at one point in the Season 6 finale but got interrupted by Olenna saying no one wanted to hear what she had to say. Tyene did have a few brief lines in the preceding episode before the battle on her ship.
- Due to massive alterations to the Dorne storyline in the TV show, it is unknown how any of these TV scenes will reflect the actual events in future novels (i.e. Doran Martell, Trystane and Areo Hotah are still alive; Doran's daughter and heir Arianne is a major character; Doran reveals he is a secret Targaryen loyalist; the Sand Snakes thus change their mind about Doran and follow his orders loyally). See "Coup in Dorne" for more.
- Actress Indira Varma (Ellaria) revealed in a post-episode interview that while Ellaria is presumed to still be alive, this episode marks her departure from the TV series, and she is not currently intended to reappear in the future. The HBO Viewer's Guide update for this episode listed Tyene as deceased now, even though she doesn't die on camera (i.e. it is physically possible that it could take days for the poison to work on her before someone gave her an antidote, but that isn't going to happen). Ellaria is still listed as alive.
- While the TV series can plausibly make the tacit assumption that any minor Tyrell cousins later died in the fall of Highgarden, it is impossible for the entire House Martell bloodline to be extinct even in the TV continuity - at least, without simply making an official retcon. In Season 4, Oberyn Martell confirmed that there are eight Sand Snakes, all his daughters by various women, just as in the books. Ellaria is the mother of the four youngest in the books, but the TV show changed "Tyene" to be her daughter - nonetheless it remained inconsistent on whether she was now the mother of four or five Sand Snakes in the TV continuity (at one point in Season 5 Doran said she was mother to four of his nieces; Tyene and three others). Four of the younger ones haven't been introduced by name in the TV continuity, but in Season 4 Oberyn even mentioned that one of the young ones is named "Elia Sand" after his late sister Elia Martell. Thus even if Ellaria dies, Oberyn should still have five living daughters.
- It appears the TV writers are simply wrapping up the Dorne subplots as quickly as possible as an admission of failure, after the extremely negative critical reception that their truncated adaptation of it received for Season 5. Alexander Siddig (Doran Martell) even confirmed that he was supposed to appear in four episodes of Season 6, before ultimately being killed off in the premiere episode. As such, the simple fact is that the TV writers might not be bothering to develop their own in-universe explanation for who the current leader of Dorne is or what happened to all branches of House Martell. Jessica Henwick, who played Nymeria Sand, had to squeeze in her brief appearance in the preceding episode around her new schedule as a lead in Marvel's Iron Fist series. Henwick said the producers told her that if she couldn't fit it into her schedule, they wouldn't even bother recasting the role with another actor, and simply leave the character's fate unexplained (though ultimately she was able to make it in). The lack of planning around Nymeria's fate seems to reaffirm that the TV writers simply don't want to expend any more effort tying up loose narrative ends regarding Dorne.
- The ultimately handling of the Dorne subplot and characters from the books was received very poorly by critics, particularly as they are the only one of the Seven Kingdoms whose people are non-white. TheFandomentals.com said in its review for this episode, regarding Ellaria and the three Sand Snakes:
- "I also can’t help but look at the overall treatment of these women on this show and this being their cumulative moment. These four women of color were brought on the show, hyper sexualized, dramatized, catty to no end, and violent. Then we watched the incredibly damaging racist stereotyping punished, spending more time on their torturous or violent deaths than was ever spent on trying to actual characterize and develop these people. It just really doesn’t sit well on any level."
- Bran Stark returns to Winterfell, for the first time since the Season 2 finale.
- Similar to with Jon Snow, Sansa Stark didn't actually have any scenes with Bran Stark before, in the brief period when they were both together at Winterfell in the first two episodes of the TV series. The only time they were on-camera together was when the Stark household gathered in the courtyard to welcome King Robert's arrival. Unlike with Jon, the books do describe Sansa as interacting more with her trueborn brothers off-screen - but in both books and TV series, Sansa is only actively depicted in scenes with Arya.
- Bran says that he is the Three-Eyed Raven now, after the previous one uploaded all of his memories and powers to him. This appears to be somewhat like the Bene Gesserit "Other Memory" from Frank Herbert's Dune chronicles. Bran seems detached and overwhelmed by this vast new perspective, seeing all of the past and future at once but unable to process it all yet. Sansa is frightened that he can recall what her wedding dress at Winterfell looked like even though he wasn't there.
- Sansa points out that by the male-preference primogeniture laws of inheritance in Westeros, Bran should be lord of Winterfell and the North due to being Ned Stark's last trueborn son. Note that this means she freely expresses that Bran should rule Winterfell instead of herself: even though Bran is her younger brother, both of them always knew since they were small children that Bran ranks ahead of her in the traditional line of succession, and she doesn't challenge that. It remains to be seen how this would impact Ned's alleged bastard son Jon Snow ruling - but Bran surprises Sansa by insisting that he doesn't want to be a lord and thinks he never can be now - possibly just abdicating his position.
- After being told they have provisions to feed Winterfell for the next one year of winter (possibly a little more), Sansa asks Maester Wolkan what the longest winter in the past 100 years was, and he says he'll have to check. In both the first novel and Season 1, Tyrion was asked how many winters he had lived through, and which was the longest, to which he answered that he had lived through nine winters, and the longest was the one he was born in, which lasted three years. The TV series has increased Tyrion's age a few years so the span this occurred in is a little different, but from this and other evidence the pattern loosely holds that each of the four seasons in Westeros, while variable, usually lasts around one or two years - three year long seasons only happen every few decades, and a decade-long season only happens every century or so. Previously, in Season 2, the Pycelle told the Small Council that the ten year long summer that just ended was the longest in living memory. It was also brought up that the commoners think a long summer will be followed by an equally long winter, but Pycelle dismisses this as just superstition - they really can't predict how long new seasons will be. Time moves more slowly in the TV series timeline, so the autumn which began the same time as the War of the Five Kings lasted about two years before turning into winter. In the TV series, this autumn lasted five years.
- The books have more explicit scenes of characters worrying about winter provisions: autumn is when they harvest and store crops for the long winter, but instead all of the able-bodied men were off fighting and dying in the war, and the burned out the major breadbasket region of the Riverlands. Recently in the Season 7 premiere episode, Jaime also expressed concern that the Lannisters couldn't keep feeding their armies unless they captured the remaining grain stores in the Reach.
- Sansa observes that the steel breastplates that some of the blacksmiths are making (who apparently came north with the Vale army) need to be covered in leather for the cold. The costume designers have explained this in interviews since Season 1: metal doesn't retain heat well, and additionally, exposed metal armor in freezing temperatures is very cold, so it will actually give its wearer frostbite burns if it isn't protected with a layer of other material. This isn't some special knowledge Sansa would have, though - any child in the north would know this is how they need to equip for the cold, but the Vale lords aren't used to arming for a northern winter.
- Littlefinger's speech to Sansa doesn't appear to have a clear objective, nor has he been presented as having a clear goal now that the Vale army is in Winterfell (other than wanting to marry Sansa). The TV version cut out many of his elaborate and well-planned schemes from the novels - i.e. in the books, he never married off Sansa to the Boltons (presented as some sort of plan to destroy them from within, which isn't how Marriage works in Westeros), and his plan was to have Sansa marry Sweetrobin Arryn's cousin and heir Harrold Hardyng, after Sweetrobin dies (Littlefinger does not say explicitly whether he intends to "help" Sweetrobin die, though it is implied), then have Sansa reclaim the North using the Vale's armies. What Littlefinger intends to do after that, however, is unknown, as openly revolting against the Iron Throne would put him at odds with Cersei. Baelish may have been attempting to cast doubt on Jon while emphasizing that his self-interest and political experience are more reliable than Jon's idealism.
- Sansa remarks that Cersei killed her "father, mother, and brother" - actually, Cersei was only directly involved in the betrayal of her father Ned, and responsible for his death at Joffrey's order due to inaction. Her mother Catelyn and brother Robb, however, were killed at the Red Wedding, and Cersei actually wasn't involved in planning that - only because her father Tywin planned it himself and didn't think Cersei was smart enough to let her in on the plan. Cersei did rejoice at the deaths of Catelyn and Robb, however, and broadly "the Lannisters" as a whole were responsible for it, so perhaps Sansa is just speaking loosely.
- The full introduction Missandei gives in this episode for Daenerys, including all her formal titles, is: "You are standing in the presence of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen: rightful heir to the Iron Throne, rightful Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains." This differs slightly from her full title introduction in the fifth novel, which is: "Daenerys Stormborn, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Shackles, and Mother of Dragons."
- As with Cersei in the preceding episodes, the TV show has also switched back to omitting "the Rhoynar" from Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men. The version omitting "the Rhoynar" was used since Season 1 - apparently thinking it would take too long to explain who the Rhoynar were (ancestors of the Dornish), even though Season 1 didn't explain in dialogue who the Andals or the First Men were either. In Seasons 4 and 6, after the Dornish were introduced, the TV series flip-flopped to including "of the Rhoynar" or not inconsistently from episode to episode.
- There is no "King of Westeros" as such - "Westeros" is the entire continent, the "Seven Kingdoms" are everything south of The Wall. Thus the full titles used by male monarchs like King Robert Baratheon or Joffrey included "Lord of the Seven Kingdoms" and "Protector of the Realm". The latter of these is a specific title for the current commander of all the realm's armies, which is usually the king ex officio, but if the king is underaged or of a non-martial, scholarly bent, they have been known to pass the title to some other trusted commander (i.e. as Tommen was underaged in Season 4, Tywin was introduced as "Protector of the Realm" without complaint). As there has never been an official female monarch before, it is uncertain what the female variants would be - presumably "Lady of the Seven Kingdoms", which is what Game of Thrones Wiki was using in infoboxes. In the Season 7 premiere, however, Cersei's letter to Jon listed her title as "Protector of the Seven Kingdoms": apparently a combination of "Lord of the Seven Kingdoms" and "Protector of the Realm". Daenerys uses the same title now, "Protector of the Seven Kingdoms", so apparently the TV writers didn't intend this to just be a whim of Cersei, making up new titles. It's possible that the TV writers thought "Lady of the Seven Kingdoms" sounds awkward in dialogue.
- Jon says that Daenerys's father, the Mad King, burned alive his grandfather (Rickard Stark) and his uncle, (Brandon Stark). This is mistaken: the Mad King burned his grandfather alive while forcing his uncle to watch, while Brandon was tied by his neck to a torture device, to intentionally make Brandon strangle himself trying to break free to help his father. This is a bit convoluted, so Jon could be just speaking loosely in anger.
- In the second novel, Jaime asks Catelyn if she knows how Rickard and Brandon were killed. She answers that Brandon was strangled, but does not know how Rickard was killed. Jaime taunts Catelyn that Ned wished to spare her the truth, and tells her the whole story, without omitting even one gruesome detail. It can be assumed that Catelyn was not the only one who did not know the exact details of the double execution, thus Jon's mistake is understandable.
- Daenerys says that Jon lost two brothers, presumably referring to Robb and Rickon. Since she (and almost every one else, except Sam, Sansa, Theon, Jon and the occupants of Castle Black) had no way of knowing that Bran survived, she should have said that Jon lost three brothers. In the TV version, Jon learned that Bran had escaped the burning of Winterfell, but hasn't heard anything about him in three years and may still fear he is dead. The TV series largely avoided the issue of what people thought happened to Bran, after Rickon was confirmed to have escaped too.
- It's unclear why Jon doesn't bring up that he had the confidence of the last known living Targaryen before Daenerys, her great-uncle Maester Aemon, and that Aemon himself believed their reports that the White Walkers have returned. Davos also received a letter from Maester Aemon about the White Walkers, and he's also in the room, but doesn't mention it - though in that case, it actually wasn't common knowledge that Aemon was a Targaryen, so it could plausibly be explained that Davos was simply unaware of their connection.
- Jon and Daenerys explicitly bring up some of the history of the Seven Kingdoms, mentioning by name that Torrhen Stark was the last of the original Kings in the North, who bent the knee to Daenerys's ancestor Aegon I Targaryen. This has been explained in the animated Histories & Lore featurettes since Season 1. By the time Torrhen was able to muster all the diverse armies of the North from across their vast territories, Aegon had already conquered all of southern Westeros, demonstrating at the Field of Fire that no regular army could stand against his dragons; he also joined the surviving strength of all the defeated kingdoms to his own. When Torrhen finally reached the south and saw Aegon's vast power, he realized that fighting was pointless (the North needs every man it has to survive its deadly winters and wildling invasions) - so he surrendered without a fight. As a result, historians like Maester Yandel have pointed out that the Targaryens never truly "defeated" the North, they surrendered voluntarily.
- Daenerys's statement "the last King in the North was Torrhen Stark" is incorrect, because there was another King in the North after him, preceding Jon - Robb. Either Daenerys has not been fully updated about the political affairs in Westeros, including Robb's coronation; or thought Robb could not be considered as a king because his period of reign was so short and unstable; or thought that Robb was never legally crowned, since in her eyes - the Targaryens are still the legal monarchs of Westeros, and no one can declare himself King in the North ever since Torrhen bent the knee to her ancestor.
- Daenerys states to Jon that the realm had seen centuries of peace when a Targaryen had sat on the Iron Throne and a Stark had been Warden of the North. However, Westeros has in fact endured numerous wars and rebellions throughout the Targaryen dynasty (i.e. the Dance of the Dragons, the Blackfyre Rebellions, the War of the Ninepenny Kings, etc.). It's possible, of course, that Daenerys was simply glossing over those conflicts. Notably, one possible meaning is that many of those conflicts spanned decades apart from each other, and were nowhere near as devastating as compared to the War of the Five Kings.
- When Jon and Tyrion walk up the steps to Dragonstone castle, they recount that Tyrion pissed off the top of the Wall (in Season 1's "Lord Snow"), and that Tyrion was dismissive of the existence of the White Walkers at the time, saying that the Night's Watch only defends against Grumkins and Snarks, which are imaginary creatures (Season 1's "The Kingsroad").
- Tyrion defends that (back in Season 1), White Walkers were just the stuff of legends, no one could be reasonably expected to believe in them - but Jon saw them, and so did "Mormont". This is referring to how Tyrion received a letter from Lord Commander Jeor Mormont sent to the Small Council in King's Landing back in the Season 2 premiere, warning that the White Walkers had returned ("The North Remembers"). All of them scoffed at it, though Tyrion - having met Jeor, who seemed a serious man not prone to fantasy - seemed slightly perturbed at the time.
- Tyrion and Davos also note that they fought on opposite sides of the Battle of the Blackwater (in Season 2's "Blackwater").
- Tyrion asks Jon if Sansa is safe, bringing up that they are still technically married - though as Tyrion himself dismisses, it was a "sham marriage" they were both forced into and which he refused to consummate (after their wedding in Season 3's "Second Sons"). "Divorce" doesn't exist in Westeros, but annulment does - though, unlike Littlefinger said in "High Sparrow", it is not done automatically - it has to be granted with special permission from the Faith of the Seven's hierarchy, and only for specific reasons (if the marriage was unconsummated, if it was actually bigamous because one of them was already married, etc.).
- In the fourth novel, Littlefinger intends to marry Sansa to Harrold Hardyng. Sansa reminds him she is still married. Littlefinger assures her it is not a problem, for this is only a betrothal; the actual marriage will wait until "Cersei is done and Sansa's safely widowed". He does not bring up the option of annulment.
- The long, low winding stair path that leads from the outer gates of Dragonstone which Jon, Davos, Tyrion, and Missandei walk up is an entirely real filming location in San Juan, Spain, made without any CGI extensions.
- When Jon and Tyrion are walking to the castle and remark that he is "not a Stark", meaning that he's a bastard with the surname "Snow", they are interrupted by the Targaryen dragons - which is, of course, a double-entendre that Jon's father was secretly a Targaryen.
- Daenerys pointedly asks Jon if his father Eddard Stark cared that Robert Baratheon would send assassins after her and her brother in Essos. Neither is aware that this deeply troubled Ned, to the point that he would have resigned as Robert's Hand of the King over it. Rhaegar Targaryen's small children, Daenerys's own niece and nephew, were killed during the Sack of King's Landing, and this did greatly offend Ned, causing a rift with Tywin Lannister for allowing it (which never healed) and briefly putting him at odds with Robert (though they reconciled in their shared grief a few weeks later after they discovered that Lyanna had died). Ned's sense of honor in refusing to go along with killing children was later expressed when he steadfastly refused to kill Cersei and her children, even though this mercy was political suicide.
- Varys knows what Ned's reaction was because he was at those council meetings, though he doesn't happen to be in the room at the moment and apparently hasn't informed Daenerys of it before.
- Ser Barristan Selmy also knows that; in the fifth novel, he tells that to Daenerys. Daenerys, however, does not change her mind about the Starks - she regards them and the Lannisters collectively as "the usurper's dogs".
- The exchange in the Dragonstone throne room makes it clear that it isn't common knowledge throughout Westeros that Jon died and was resurrected. They don't have a modern communication network but just vague rumors that filter across the continent over time. In the preceding episode, Hot Pie was aware of the basic outline that Jon led a wildling army south from the Wall to defeat the Boltons, but not about his resurrection. Apparently it's so fantastic that Jon doesn't try to advertise it because he doesn't know if people would believe it and it would sound crazy to make such a claim without evidence (as seen here). The exact circumstances of how he left the Night's Watch to become King in the North thus still aren't widespread knowledge.
- Daenerys quips that she "didn't receive a formal education". She was just an exile on the run throughout her childhood, without a true home, bouncing from one patron to the next with her brother until the novelty of their presence wore off and they'd have to go begging somewhere else. She wasn't taught by a maester in a castle like many great lords - though she is a quick study and very intelligent. The novels make this more clear; the history books about Westeros that Jorah gave her at her wedding were the first time she'd had access to thorough information about Westeros. For most of her life, all she had to go on was her brother Viserys's skewed view of events.
- Daenerys explicitly describes being sold off to the Dothraki like a broodmare, and her wedding night with Drogo, as "Rape". This was a change from books to TV series though somewhat grey: in the book version, Daenerys does remark in later books that Viserys tried to buy an army with her virginity and she was sold off like a horse, but she actually fell in love with Drogo. In the book version of their wedding night, however, she resists him at first but then says "yes" as they have sex - and the term "rape" was not applied to it as such (due to being a pre-modern society without a definition of marital rape). On top of this, she was 13 years old at the time in the books (though considered of marriageable age because she had had begun flowering). Perhaps to sidestep the controversy that would have arisen from trying to defend this as not being rape, the TV show changed it to actually depict her wedding night as rape, and the showrunners refer to it as "rape" in their Blu-ray commentary.
- George R.R. Martin later said in interviews that the original version they filmed in the unaired pilot episode was the same as the books (with a different actress before Daenerys was recast), but that the final version was changed to depict it as rape (with Daenerys, not in a position of control, only consenting in a situation of duress). Martin was guarded in his comments and said that if anyone wanted to know why the change was made they would have to ask showrunners Benioff and Weiss, because it wasn't his idea (see the pilot episode article for more information).
- Continuing from the first two episodes, Daenerys's new costume style has shifted to the "old Targaryen style" that her brother Viserys wore back in Season 1 (with a few touches from the other styles she had in her travels). On formal occasions, such as her wedding, Viserys would embellish his tunic with a short ceremonial cape pinned to one shoulder. Daenerys didn't have the short pinned cape in the first two episodes of this season while she was traveling, but to receive Jon Snow in this episode she wears her full formal regalia including a short red cape pinned to one shoulder, like Viserys. Notice the delicate embroidery pattern on it meant to be reminiscent of dragon-scales. See "Costumes: King's Landing" for more information.
- Tyrion prefaces his advice to Daenerys by saying "a wise man once said..." - and she accuses that he's just making that up. This is something of a running gag: last season in "Oathbreaker", he prefaced a different remark with "a wise man once said...", then Missandei asked which man it was who said that, and he quipped "Me, just now".
- Tyrion explicitly brings up that the nomenclature of fighting an army of undead wights can be confusing: are wights "killed" by fire given that they're already dead, or "destroyed" by fire? Tyrion doesn't dwell on the issue.
- This is one of the few episodes in which all three of Daenerys's dragons are referred to by name in dialogue: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. Despite hatching in the closing scene of Season 1, it wasn't until Season 5 that all three of their names were spoken aloud on-screen (Drogon's name was given in the finale of Season 4 "The Children", the other two in the premiere of Season 5 "The Wars To Come"). The HBO website for the TV series did list their names since Season 2, but casual viewers wouldn't have known it - the TV writers said they felt it was awkward to fit in a scene in which a character would point out all three of their names for the benefit of the audience - which is what Daenerys and her followers do for Jon in this episode.
- This is also the first time that the TV show has directly explained that Daenerys named two of the dragons explicitly after her two dead brothers: Rhaegal for Rhaegar Targaryen (who died before she was born, and who was Jon's secret biological father) and Viserion for her brother Viserys. Drogon, of course, has been named after Khal Drogo, although it is never explicitly mentioned in the show.
- Daenerys ponders trying to hunt down Euron Greyjoy's fleet with her dragons. Wooden ships are indeed quite vulnerable to dragons (as seen at the Second Siege of Meereen last season, and at historical battles such as the Battle of the Gullet) - this may be why Euron relied on surprise attack in the Narrow Sea and hasn't attempted to directly assault Dragonstone island itself. Cersei was also presented with an anti-dragon ballista in the preceding episode, bringing up the issue that an adult dragon's only real weak spot is its eyes - in historical battles, opposing forces figured out in past centuries that fundamentally a dragon's real weak spot is of course its human rider, who can be killed with conventional weapons if they're not careful.
- Melisandre openly admits that sacrificing Shireen Baratheon was a horrible mistake, and she is done trying to directly influence events, having finally brought "ice" (Jon Snow) and "fire" (Daenerys Targaryen) together.
- This is of course a reference to the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, and in-universe, to The Prince That Was Promised, about whom it was said (in the books) that "his is the song of ice and fire."
- Melisandre's statement that she has seen a vision in the flames that she, and Varys, will die in Westeros (sooner or later) hasn't been made in the novels - though all men must die eventually, and she didn't mention in what context they will die.
- Her statement "whispering in the ears of kings" is a direct barb towards Varys: he was known for literally whispering in Aerys II Targaryen's ear during the closing days of Robert's Rebellion, leading many to question exactly whose side he was on. His formal title as the royal spymaster was in fact "Master of Whisperers".
- Interestingly, Melisandre indicates that she intends to make for Volantis rather than return to Asshai. It's not clear whether she intends to go there to meet with Kinvara and the largest concentration of Red Priests west of the Jade Sea, or if it is simply her first stop on a longer journey. Either way, she makes it clear that she will return to Westeros to face her death.
- Davos Seaworth self-deprecatingly notes that he has a "Flea Bottom accent", that is, a lower-class accent as he grew up in the slum district called Flea Bottom in King's Landing. He also remarks that he isn't familiar with Missandei's accent so he doesn't know where she's from. It is mentioned in passing in the novels that the Common Tongue of Westeros (the language of the Andals) has various regional as well as class accents, but George R.R. Martin didn't develop them in specific detail because he isn't a trailed linguist. Class accents are a bit more prominent than regional accents in the text, i.e. lower class people speak in a less refined register than well-educated aristocrats.
- Davos wasn't sure where Missandei is from so she explains that she is from Naath island (which is off the coast of Sothoryos, the third continent beside Westeros and Essos, and their fantasy analogue of Africa). Davos says he's heard it's beautiful, with palm trees and butterflies. Davos is apparently trying to be friendly and isn't patronizing her - that is, if Jon said he'd heard of Naath and it's nice, he would be politely lying. Davos, in contrast, was an ocean-going smuggler in the Narrow Sea for many years, encountered many merchants, pirates, and travelers from across the Free Cities who themselves voyaged throughout the Summer Sea, so it's entirely probable that he heard of Naath at some point in the past.
- This is only the second time that Naath has been described in some detail since Missandei was introduced in Season 3: it has been mentioned since but only in the context of her introducing herself as "Missandei, from the isle of Naath". The first time it was described was in Season 4's "Oathbreaker", when Grey Worm asked if she remembered what it was like, and she said she remembered the tall trees and sandy beaches.
- Davos's description of Naath is what a trader/smuggler would have heard about the island from most people. The island is known for the butterfly plague, so people would not land on the island. Crews sailing by would see the trees and beaches.
- Davos mentions he's heard about the beautiful palm trees and butterflies on Naath. In the books, it is indeed famous for its butterflies - to the point that it is often called, "Naath, the Isle of Butterflies". While beautiful, however, the butterflies are carriers for a deadly and horrific plague which kills any outsiders who visit the island if they stay more than a few hours. The indigenous Naathi people are immune to the "butterfly fever", and this protected them from foreign invasion for many centuries, but eventually foreign slavers figured out that the butterflies are only active in the day, so they could avoid it by raiding the island for slaves at night.
- The Title sequence for the TV series puts the sigil of a character's House next to their actor's name, i.e. a lion for Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister). They make up sigils for other characters who aren't from noble Houses or for production staff: for Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), the title sequence uses a butterfly as her personalized sigil.
- According to linguist David J. Peterson, when Daenerys orders her guard to escort Jon and Davos to their chambers, the unsubtitled line she gives in Dothraki is simply: "Escort these men to their rooms. Treat them well, but keep an eye on them." ("Idriso jin mahrazhis gacheshaan mori. Ti morea chek, vosma vitihiri mora"). Peterson said the line was meant to be subtitled and he wasn't sure why it wasn't - saying it wasn't really important enough to be subtitled in the first place, but it also wasn't significant enough that there was some need to remove the subtitles either.
- Tyrion tells Daenerys "Apparently, it [dragonglass] can be turned into weapons that kill White Walkers and their undead foot soldiers". As explained in the notes for the preceding episode, when Jon stated this at Winterfell, in the books dragonglass can only kill White Walkers, not their wights - but TV writer Dave Hill stated in an interview that this is an official change from books to TV series, not merely an oversight.
- While talking to Jon, Tyrion says "Why don't you figure out what to do about my missing fleet and murdered allies, and I'll figure out what to do about your walking dead men.", which most probably is a reference to another popular series featuring zombies.
In the Westerlands
- Casterly Rock appears for the first time in this episode. In the books, it is built on a much bigger scale. George R.R. Martins said that Casterly Rock was inspired by the real-life Rock of Gibraltar, a large mountain near the coast: "Casterly Rock" isn't just a castle on the top of the mountain, but a vast complex tunneled within the mountain, from the top down to sea level (it even has its own small interior docks). The way the episode is shot doesn't make this explicitly clear (though Grey Worm climbs up interior passages in the mountain all the way from sea level to the top).
- Tyrion previously mentioned that Tywin put him in charge of the sewer lines of Casterly Rock back in Season 2 ("The Prince of Winterfell"), when he remarked on it to Varys. Tywin did it to shame him, but in defiance, he applied himself diligently to the task and improved the sewers and cisterns better than they had run in years.
- Sneaking in through the sewer lines is the same way that Grey Worm himself infiltrated Meereen during its first siege in Season 4.
- Both Tyrion's work on the sewer lines of Casterly Rock and Daenerys's forces using sewer lines to infiltrate cities in Slaver's Bay have happened in the current novels - this may (or may not) be foreshadowing that Casterly Rock will fall in similar fashion in future novels.
- Tyrion's comment about the sewers of Casterly Rock contradicts with his previous mentioning of them: in "The Prince of Winterfell" he told Varys that his father assigned him to clean the drains, not to build them.
- In the fifth novel, the matter of the drains is mentioned twice, not in the context of a battle plan:
- Tyrion muses about that while recalling how his father has always used to mistreat him; perhaps he gave Tyrion that assignment because he hoped Tyrion would fall into the drains and drown.
- Near the end of the novel, a member of the Second Sons demands to know what Tyrion is good for, since he is obviously not a fighter; Tyrion tells him jokingly how well he cleaned the drains.
- Tyrion states that no one has ever taken Casterly Rock in a siege. This is true - though of course Loren Lannister surrendered all the Westerlands to Aegon Targaryen after the Field of Fire, but this was fought elsewhere. Even during the Dance of the Dragons, nearby Lannisport was sacked by the ironborn, but the gates of Casterly Rock were shut and they failed to breach it.
- It is unclear why the Unsullied don't try to raid Lannisport themselves, though Tyrion's intention was to use them as a small and decisive force for a precision strike against Casterly Rock - capturing or raiding even a medium-sized city like Lannisport is another matter, and would probably require a lot more than 8,000 Unsullied.
- Tyrion states that he converted a sewer line into a secret passage to sneak prostitutes in to Casterly Rock. This isn't mentioned in the books, but seems to be a transposition of a similar story point: to help Tyrion meet Shae without being detected by Cersei's spies, Varys tells him about a secret tunnel, between Chataya's brothel and a stable; Varys claims some previous Hand built it, to keep his dalliances with prostitutes a secret. Varys also reveals to Tyrion several secret passages in the Red Keep, which he uses for the same purpose. One of those passages leads to the Tower of the Hand; Tyrion uses it, while escaping from prison, to confront his father.
- Linguist David J. Peterson noted that in the original set of translations he made for this episode, the line where Grey Worm shouts at a dying soldier, "Where are rest of the Lannisters?!" was originally going to be in Valyrian, but was changed to be English/Common Tongue in the final version - which he thought actually made more sense, as the dying Lannister soldier wouldn't understand the question in Valyrian.
- The gold mines of Casterly Rock "running dry" is an invention of the TV series, and implausible within the books. In Season 4's episode "First of His Name", Tywin explained that the Lannisters can't pay off their astronomical debts to the Iron Bank because all of the gold mines in the Westerlands ran dry. This is a massive oversimplification - in the books, the Lannisters simply spent gold on the war faster than they can mine it. Just because they sit on the largest gold mines in Westeros never meant that they had an infinite supply. The gold mines of Casterly Rock are so rich that they have entire grand halls lined with gold, and it is famous as far away as Yi Ti (their fantasy analogue of China). Despite Yi Ti's own fabulous wealth, its people eagerly ask the few travelers who reach there from Westeros about rumors they've heard of a lion-lord who lives in a mountain made of gold.
- In this episode, Jaime says he was willing to (temporarily) abandon Casterly Rock because it doesn't have gold in it anymore. It's possible that the TV writers established that the gold mines are "running dry" specifically to set up these events in Season 7.
- Jaime also says that they emptied the larders of Casterly Rock right before the Unsullied came, so with winter upon them, they won't be able to hold it anyway and will have to abandon it. It is possible that, if something like this happens in future books, the Lannisters would remove all their food stores and any mined gold reserves in advance of their approach. If the Unsullied can't hold the castle without food stores, causing them to leave, they also wouldn't have time to stay there and mine new gold out of the mountain (in which case, it still wasn't necessary to say their mines ran totally dry).
- Tyrion says that his line about "give me ten good men and I'll impregnate the bitch" is quoting someone else. Bronn himself actually said this when he and Tyrion were approaching The Eyrie in The Vale of Arryn, back in Season 1's "The Wolf and the Lion". The Eyrie is a strong castle built atop a mountain with narrow approaches impassable to large armies, and it has never fallen to external attack. When Tyrion remarked that the Eyrie is said to be impregnable, Bronn's full response was "Give me ten good men with climbing spikes, and I'll impregnate the bitch".
- It is unclear how Euron's ironborn fleet managed to reach the west coast so fast: both Yara and Grey Worm left Dragonstone around the same time. Euron then attacked Yara's fleet, and returned to King's Landing in this episode to display his captives to Cersei. Euron's fleet would then have to outpace the Unsullied fleet to reach Casterly Rock.
- On the other hand, it is never shown that Euron himself accompanied his fleet to Casterly Rock, or if this is a separate fleet also loyal to him which sailed from the Iron Islands, which are actually right nearby Casterly Rock off the west coast. It is unclear if it was actually supposed to be his flagship, Silence, leading the attack, but even if it was he isn't shown actually sailing on it.
- Even if Euron only has one large fleet, and sent it west while he went to King's Landing, this is not totally implausible. First, Euron's fleet did arrive slightly after the Unsullied did, after they already took time landing and attacking Casterly Rock - they actually didn't outpace them, but could have been following right behind. Second, the ironborn are indeed famed as having some of the best ships and sailors in the world. In contrast, the Unsullied fleet consisted mostly of the ships from the slaver-fleet they captured at Meereen, being manned by Unsullied or freed slaves, etc. who are not nearly as experienced as seamen. So it is indeed within the realm of possibility for Euron's fleet to catch up with the Unsullied fleet, if the Unsullied had a head start of only a few days.
- The question arises of what exactly happened to the captive Edmure Tully in the TV continuity. In the books, after the Second Siege of Riverrun ended with his surrender, the Freys handed him over to the Lannisters, who sent him west to Casterly Rock under heavy guard, where he would remain in gentle imprisonment (befitting a lord of his station); Roslin, who is pregnant but has not given birth yet, will join him soon. In the TV series, Walder Frey remarked in the Season 6 finale that they took Edmure back to the dungeons of the Twins, farther north. If he was still at the Twins by the Season 7 premiere, his niece Arya Stark made no attempt to free him - it's possible that the Jaime's Lannister contingent simply took him with them when they left. If they did send him ahead to Casterly Rock, it isn't a contradiction that the Unsullied didn't free Edmure: logically, if Jaime knew an enemy force would take the castle, to the point he intentionally removed everything of use (emptying the larders, etc.) if Edmure had been there, Jaime would have sent him somewhere else ahead of time (i.e. to King's Landing). Future episodes will have to reveal Edmure's whereabouts.
- It's also worth noting that some of the interior sets of Casterly Rock have clearly been reused from Riverrun's set in Season 6.
In the Reach
- Jaime's comments about how people will accept Cersei's reign were proven at the beginning of the episode as the Smallfolk cheered Euron's victory. Even though many people despise Cersei and distrust the Ironborn, they want an end to years of war.
- Highgarden appears for the first time in this episode. In the books, it is built on a much larger scale: it has three massive curtain walls, and is surrounded by large stretches of hedge mazes and gardens. Indeed, the hedge mazes also make an approach difficult for any large invading army (they can just cut a path straight through, but either way they'll be slowed down).
- When Jaime enters to confront her with Highgarden's defeat, Olenna Tyrell quotes a line from The Rains of Castamere, the Lannister anthem of sorts, a song about rushing their enemies House Reyne: "...and now the rains weep o'er our halls...".
- Olenna's question as to why Tywin didn't just take Highgarden when his gold mines ran dry is very strange coming from her as she told Cersei in "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" that even he, powerful as he was, knew sometimes it is better to work with one's rivals than destroy them.
- It is confirmed that Jaime is carrying Joffrey's Valyrian steel sword Widow's Wail, referred to by name in on-screen dialogue. Olenna even chides that because Joffrey was given it as a wedding gift a matter of hours before his death, he never actually "wielded" it. According to George Martin (it is not mentioned in the books), Tommen inherited the sword but as he was a minor he never used it. With even Tommen dead, it appears that it defaulted back to Jaime, who can make some use of it.
- Jaime tells Olenna "My father always said I was a slow learner". This is the third time Jaime's reading disorder is mentioned in the show: he previously told that to Brienne in "Walk of Punishment", and before him - Tywin told that to Arya in "The Old Gods and the New". In the novels, there is no mentioning Jaime suffers from any reading disability.
- Olenna confirms that she believes the truth of Jaime and Cersei's incest, which given their behavior is hardly surprising (Ellaria was bluntly aware of this as well). Previously, she had diplomatically referred to them as simply "rumors". She also directly refers to Joffrey as Jaime's son when she speaks to him.
- Olenna finally reveals the truth about the Purple Wedding to someone other than Margaery, and a Lannister finally learns the truth. Olenna also admits that she didn't know it was going to be so gruesome, having never seen the strangler in use before, and gives a half-hearted apology for that.
- Interestingly, Olenna does not reveal to Jaime that Petyr Baelish aided her in Joffrey's death. This may be her playing the long game even in death: she knows that Littlefinger wants the Iron Throne and can do far greater damage to Cersei if he is left to play his games than if he were to be irrevocably denounced.
- The episode's description "Jaime learns from his mistakes", refers to Jaime using the same strategy that Robb Stark used against him at the Battle of the Whispering Wood (at the end of Season 1), sacrificing a diversionary force to achieve a surprise ambush, in order to take Highgarden. Robb send a diversionary force east to the Battle of the Green Fork to keep the Lannister armies divided, when he real objective was a surprise attack to the west, to lift the Lannister siege of Riverrun led by Jaime (the Whispering Wood is on the outskirts of Riverrun).
- The Battle of the Whispering Wood wasn't referred to by name during the episode it took place in - because due to budget constraints, it happened off-screen. Stark soldiers, however, did refer to it as "Whispering Wood" in Season 2, and Robb prominently said in the Season 3 premiere that his army hadn't had a good fight since "Whispering Wood", because the Lannisters were avoiding meeting his forces in a direct confrontation (so they could exhaust him through attrition).
- In the books, Jaime has indeed learned a valuable lesson from that battle, but in the opposite manner: he does not use Robb's strategy against enemies - instead, he takes precautions (sending scouts ahead, forbidding his men to leave the column without permission, placing sentries, etc.) to make certain he will not be taken by surprise again. Such precautions may seem unnecessary, for at that point the Starks have been brought down, so Jaime does not expect any serious attack; the Brotherhood members hunt down only lone Freys, and they wouldn't attack a large host. Still, Jaime insists on acting warily, consistent with the change he has gone throughout the third novel: once he was rash and reckless, and now he is calculating and cautious.
- It is unclear if Highgarden will actually fall like this in future novels. It does seem to match the strategy of feinting towards one objective but then truly striking at another which several characters use. Specifically, Euron Greyjoy himself in the books makes a feint towards Highgarden (which is in the north of the Reach) when he attacks the Shield Islands which guard the mouth of the Mander River (which ironborn longships can sail up to attack Highgarden) - but later admits that this was to trick the Tyrells into concentrating all of their armies in the north, when his true objective was to attack Oldtown itself (second-largest city in Westeros, which is in the south of the Reach). Perhaps Euron intends to attack Highgarden at some stage of his campaign against the Reach; currently he prepares for the imminent naval battle against the Redwyne fleet.
- It is odd that the Sack of Highgarden proceeded so quickly, given that Highgarden is actually a rather defensible castle with three enormous certain walls. Even the gardens are deadly, as invading infantry would need to navigate the castle's complex hedge maze immediately inside the outer wall. Of course, Jaime didn't mention how many men he and Tarly lost, so its possible that the soldiers and castle gave as good as they got. It seems somewhat implied that the main Tyrell army was in the east advancing on King's Landing, so Highgarden itself was caught lightly defended.
- A direct comparison is the Fall of Casterly Rock in this same episode: the well-defended castle is taken after the elite attacking force suffers numerous causalities from arrows and close combat - even from a token garrison left behind while the main Lannister army left, due to the defensive advantage of such a strong castle. Indeed, in the case of Casterly Rock, the Unsullied took a few casualties but managed to quickly take the castle due to Tyrion's plan to infiltrate it using his knowledge of the sewer line. The Lannister-Tarly force would have no such advantage against Highgarden, even if it only had a token defense.
- Seemingly presenting that all three of Daenerys's major allies from Westeros itself have been removed by the end of this episode raises several major plot issues - a decapitation strike against these leaders she allied with wouldn't remove their followers and armies. The TV showrunners may simply be attempting to quickly rush over the details of Daenerys's invasion without explaining these major plot points:
- Yara was captured and her fleet was devastated. She didn't control territory and her followers did suffer a direct assault, so there is no issue here.
- As for Dorne however, while Ellaria was captured and her daughters killed, it was explicitly stated that they were sailing south to Sunspear to ferry the Dornish army back to Dragonstone - that is, the Dornish army wasn't destroyed while on Yara's fleet because they hadn't even picked them up yet. This leaves totally unanswered the question of what the Dornish armies will do - full strength armies that haven't even been blooded in the years of war. Surely, someone must be ruling Dorne now (perhaps Elia Sand?), or some mention would have to be made that it has fallen into chaos and infighting. The TV writers, however, might simply be unconcerned with these remaining plot threads: again, stating that if the Nymeria Sand actress couldn't return for Season 7 they wouldn't even bother to recast the actress or explain what happened to the character.
- Comparable to Ellaria, it is unknown if this is being presented as a decapitation strike against Olenna at Highgarden while it is defended only by its own home garrison, or, if the TV show is presenting that the half-strength Lannister army (numbering maybe 10-15,000 men, plus the Tarlys) managed to defeat the entire army of the Reach (the Tyrells and their allies) which was twice as large as the Lannister army before it got bloodied in the war (albeit some Reach lords like the Tarlys switched sides). The Lannisters didn't take Oldtown, for example, and its rulers House Hightower are staunch allies of the Tyrells (Margaery and Loras were both half-Hightower through their mother, Alerie Hightower); or Olenna's own family, House Redwyne of The Arbor, etc. So far at least, the TV series has glossed over the fall of the Reach without explaining these plot issues.
- It has been unclear since the Destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor what the line of succession for House Tyrell was: even if Mace's entire bloodline, or even Olenna's entire bloodline, was wiped out (if other, unnamed Tyrell cousins came for the trial), the Tyrells are a large and wealthy family with numerous minor cousins spread across Westeros who wouldn't have all gathered for it, and thus would have survived. A possible answer to the situation now might be the tacit assumption that any surviving Tyrells retreated to Highgarden and now died in its defense. That is, as a simplification for the TV continuity, it is at least plausible to say that the Tyrells are extinct (in contrast with the Martells, of which it was mentioned that there are five other Sand Snakes who never even left Dorne, and should thus still be alive).
- In the Inside the Episode video, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss gave their explanation for why the Lannisters were able to capture Highgarden, and why they didn't show it on camera (Click this link to view).
- Benioff: "The Tyrells...Fighting isn't really their forte, I mean they're just not known for being the most fearsome warriors, so to have a long extended battle there didn't make a lot of sense."
- Weiss: "We decided to cut to the chase and cut right to Jaime, single-mindedly making his way to the person he's there to see, which is Olenna Tyrell"
- Benioff and Weiss's comments about the Tyrells' martial abilities are problematic in several regards: the Tyrells, in fact, do have a reputation as formidable warriors, in both the books and TV series - both the Tyrell family members, and all of their retainers and armies in general.
- The Reach is the "heartland of chivalry" in Westeros, with some of the most famous knights. Loras Tyrell specifically was one of the most skilled knights in the entire continent - even Jaime listed him as one of the few men who ever beat him in personal combat.
- Littlefinger even lost a Valyrian steel dagger in a wager on a tournament joust between Loras and Jaime (right before the story begins), because he bet on Jaime and was surprised when Loras managed to beat him.
- Loras even managed to defeat Gregor Clegane in the tournament during Season 1 (albeit by using under-handed tactics, out-thinking Gregor by using a mare in heat to distract his stallion). At the time, Ned Stark even assured Sansa that Loras "rides well" and was one of the few knights in Westeros who could plausibly challenge the monstrous Gregor.
- The Tyrell army was the decisive force whose aid helped Tywin achieve victory at the Battle of the Blackwater - again, with Loras leading their cavalry charge.
- The Tyrell army, containing numerous knights as heavy cavalry, was twice as large as the Lannister army when the war began, and didn't get nearly as bloodied as the Lannister armies did from attrition by this point. Tywin himself considered them such vital allies that he arranged a double marriage-alliance to keep them in the fold - Joffrey to Margaery, and Cersei to Loras (to Loras's brother in the book version).
- The TV series never had a specific moment when it somehow established that the Tyrells are not "formidable warriors", or that their army as a whole is formidable.
- It increasingly appears that the only basis Benioff could have had for this comment that the Tyrells do not have a reputation as formidable warriors is due to some stereotype about Loras Tyrell being homosexual - therefore effeminate and not formidable in combat. Even this doesn't make much sense given that Loras is dead at this point in the story, so whoever is the castellan in charge of Highgarden's defenses now isn't even an introduced character.
- Loras actually did have significantly more moments in the novels which established his presence as a "formidable warrior" with "fighting as his forte" - though even the TV series introduced his earned reputation and abilities in prior seasons. This brings up the separate issue from the Season 7 premiere of the Abandonment of Dragonstone: the TV series said that Stannis simply abandoned the castle when he left, and during the intervening three years, no one else attempted to claim it (this never happens to any castle in the history of Westeros). In the books, Stannis left a small token garrison behind, who nonetheless could have held out for months due to the strength of the castle, so the Lannister and Tyrell fleets were forced to blockade the island. With the rise of Euron's ironborn to the west, the Tyrell fleet urgently needed to return home, so Loras volunteered to forced a quick end to the siege by storming the castle, at great personal risk to himself. All who saw Loras fight were awed by his skill and bravery, carving his way through waves of foes, despite taking numerous severe wounds that he shrugged off, until boiling oil was dropped on him from a tower. The TV series cut this out entirely: thus Benioff claims that the Tyrells are not established as "formidable warriors", in part, because the showrunners omitted a major scene from the novels which establishes Loras as a "formidable warrior" - regardless of the fact that he is homosexual. Even removing the Dragonstone subplot, prior seasons nonetheless already established that Loras was one of the top knights in all of Westeros.
- The fact that Lord Randyll has decided to turn against the Tyrells, despite the reservations he expressed in the previous episode, perhaps implies that House Tarly will act the same in the upcoming novels (though will not necessarily side with the Lannisters).
- In "The Griffin Reborn" chapter of the fifth novel, a group of Targaryen sympathizers discusses whether it is a good time to invade Westeros; one of them says "some of us still have friends in the Reach. The power of Highgarden may not be what Mace Tyrell imagines". There are various fan speculations about the identity of the "friends"; they can be any of the houses of the Reach, among them House Tarly.
In the books
[This section will be updated with comparisons after the sixth novel is released.]
The episode contains influences from the following chapter of A Storm of Swords:
- Chapter 77, Tyrion XI: Someone calls Jaime a fool for him blindly following Cersei and not seeing through her deeds, and claims to be Joffrey's murderer.
The episode contains influences from the following chapters of A Feast for Crows:
- Chapter 24, Cersei V: Cersei speaks with an envoy of the Iron Bank.
- Chapter 27, Jaime III: Jaime states that he has learned a lesson from the battle of the Whispering Wood.
The episode contains influences from the following chapter of A Dance with Dragons:
- Chapter 16, Daenerys III: In Meereen, Daenerys Targaryen is visited by Xaro Xhoan Daxos as an envoy of Qarth. He explains that Daenerys's disruption of the slave trade has had severe economic ripple effects across Essos, from Qarth to Volantis (as Slaver's Bay is the main exporter of slaves across the entire continent). Cersei's argument to Tycho in the TV series that Daenerys's disruption of the slave trade has disrupted investments of the Iron Bank of Braavos as well might take some loose inspiration from this.
- Chapter 22, Tyrion VI: Someone complains that the disruption of slave trade by Daenerys has negative applications on worldwide economy.
- Chapter 44, Jon IX: Tycho Nestoris from the Iron Bank of Braavos meets with someone, and explains rumors he has heard of dragons in the east. The person makes light of this rumor, but Tycho warns that the Braavosi are descended from slaves who fled the dragonlords of Valyria, so he wouldn't joke about this, and actually seems somewhat wary of Daenerys.
- Chapter 66, Tyrion XII: Tyrion tells someone that his father put him in charge of the sewers in Casterly Rock.
The episode contains influences from the following chapter of The Winds of Winter:
- The Forsaken: Euron Greyjoy feints towards Highgarden in the north of the Reach, to lure the Tyrell armies away from his real objective, Oldtown in the south of the Reach. The TV version loosely switched these.
Missandei: "You stand in the presence of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Rightful Heir to the Iron Throne, Rightful Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains."
Davos Seaworth: [hesitantly] "This is Jon Snow. He's King in the North."
Daenerys Targaryen: (to Tyrion, irritably) "You told me you liked this man..."
Tyrion Lannister: "I do."
Daenerys: "In the time since he's met me, he's refused to call me Queen, he's refused to bow and now he's calling me a child."
Tyrion: "I believe he's calling all of us children. A figure of speech."
Davos Seaworth: "You don't believe him? I understand that, it sounds like nonsense. But if destiny has brought Daenerys Targaryen back to our shores, it has also made Jon Snow King in the North. You were the first to bring Dothraki to Westeros? He is the first to make allies of wildlings and Northmen. He was named Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, he was named King in the North, not because of his birthright. He has no birthright, he's a damn bastard. All those hard sons of bitches chose him as their leader because they believe in him. All those things you don't believe in, he faced those things. He fought those things for the good of his people. He risked his life for his people, he took a knife in the heart for his people, he gave his own...!" (cuts himself off, sighs) "If we don't put aside our enmities and band together, we will die. And then it doesn't matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne."
Daenerys Targaryen: "What do you think about this...Army of the dead, and White Walkers, and Night Kings?"
Tyrion Lannister: "I'd very much like to believe that Jon Snow is wrong, but a wise man once said that you should never believe a thing simply because you want to believe it."
Daenerys: "Which wise man said this?"
Tyrion: "I don't remember."
Daenerys: "Are you trying to present your own statements as ancient wisdom?"
Tyrion: "I would never do that to you."
Cersei Lannister: "Your daughter will die here, in this cell. You'll be here watching when she does. You'll be here the rest of your days. If you refuse to eat, we'll force food down your throat. You will live to watch your daughter rot, to watch that beautiful face collapse to bone and dust, all the while contemplating the choices you've made."
Olenna Tyrell: "I did unspeakable things to protect my family, or watched them being done on my orders. I never lost a night's sleep over them: they were necessary - and whatever I imagined necessary for the safety of House Tyrell, I did. But your sister...has done things...I was incapable of imagining. That was my prize mistake: a failure of imagination."
Tyrion Lannister: "At some point, I want to hear how a Night's Watch recruit became King in the North."
Jon Snow: "As long as you tell me how a Lannister became Hand to Daenerys Targaryen?"
Tyrion: "A long and bloody tale. To be honest, I was drunk for most of it."
- The Queen's Justice on Wikipedia
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